Mobile capabilities in banking aren't just opening up new services to customers. They are also completely redefining traditional rivalries and partnerships. Because consumers demand easy and convenient transactions on any device from any location, banks
have to form new alliances with a whole different breed of partner, ranging from payment processors, financial institutions, network operators and retailers.
Regardless of how far along you are on your bank's mobile integration, the business will not bear much resemblance to your grandfather's bank with red velvet ropes, orderly queues and a narrowly defined set of industry competitors. In fact, who you view
as a potential rival or a partner today depends largely on your perspective.
According to a 2014 consumer and executive survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), commissioned
by SAP, at a global level, fifty per cent of retail bank executives see virtual banks, or banks that do not have physical branches as rivals, while three in ten view them as potential partners. Likewise, bankers are almost evenly divided on the threat from
digital payments companies, such as PayPal, and firms that advise on personal financial management. We see the same division at the global level for personal financial advisors.
In EMEA, however, sixty five per cent of bankers view virtual banks as significant rivals, sixty one per cent worry about payments services, and forty eight per cent see retailers as future competitors. Sixty eight per cent view social-media companies as
potential partners for their bank.
Regardless of your perspective, one thing is clear. Banks must ally themselves with other members of the mobile and retail ecosystem if they are to compete effectively in the brave new world. And it's also clear that these partnerships must be much more
than marketing initiatives or mere lip service. They must provide integrated, seamless customer and data experiences to have any meaningful business impact. Mobile has brought with it sweeping changes and a brand new mantra for modern banking: "Must play well
But it's not just customer services that are being shaped by mobile. Banking employees are able to harness the productivity benefits to operate smarter, drive new business and compete more effectively in the mobile empowered marketplace. The majority of
bankers believe that mobile services can help employees reduce risk, identify opportunities and improve service. Sixty nine per cent think mobile for employees will help to accelerate approvals and processing, and half of banking executives see their employees
going to visit customers rather than the other way around – a trend already in full swing in emerging markets where banks are enlisting local agents armed with tablets to support rural customers.
Most banks are focusing their efforts on the mobile capabilities for customers in the first instance. The typical priority audiences are customers first, employees second, the front office third, and the back office last. No matter where you are in terms
of your own priorities and progress, mobile capabilities offer a chance for banks to deliver convenience, differentiation, upselling opportunities, as well as a gateway to deeper customer relationships through personalisation. This can only be achieved through
partnerships that deliver a seamlessly integrated experience between you and your new ecosystem partners. Who those new partners (and rivals) are is up to you.
Laurence Leyden is Head of Financial Services Industries, SAP EMEA